Stop the culture of resort politics

It undermines democracy and popular mandates
To ensure that legislators don’t succumb to temptations and inducements offered by the other side, political parties or factions often lock them in till the crisis is resolved(HT)
To ensure that legislators don’t succumb to temptations and inducements offered by the other side, political parties or factions often lock them in till the crisis is resolved(HT)
Updated on Jul 19, 2020 07:07 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent

The sight of legislators being packed off in buses, and lodged in comfortable, even luxurious, hotels and resorts, has become a common feature of Indian politics. It usually happens when a state government is in crisis, when a crucial election for a Rajya Sabha seat is underway and numbers are fluid, or when a rebellion is underway to change the regime in a state. A political party — or the rebel faction — then rushes to consolidate the legislators who are in its favour. The objective is to ensure that these legislators don’t succumb to temptations and inducements offered by the other side; and instead remain under constant surveillance. The method then adopted is to lock them in, till the crisis is resolved one way or the other.

While Rajasthan is only the most recent example — members loyal to Ashok Gehlot were sent off to a hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur and members loyal to Sachin Pilot were brought to a resort in Haryana — this is neither unique to one party nor to one state. Similar examples of resort politics were witnessed in Madhya Pradesh (rebel legislators went to Karnataka), Karnataka (legislators were brought to Maharashtra), Gujarat (to preserve numbers for a Rajya Sabha poll, legislators were taken to Karnataka), among others.

It is important to go back to first principles here, to understand how this growing pattern makes a mockery of Indian democracy, speaks poorly of elected representatives, is a reflection of the distortions in political party structures, and is an insult to the voter. Voters elect representatives, who belong to a political party or who may be an independent, for their ideas, agenda and ideology. These representatives are, within the framework of party discipline, understood to be autonomous leaders who act in public interest. But, instead, what resort politics shows is that these legislators can shift allegiances based on whoever can offer a better prize (either price or position); even parties have little faith in their integrity and so they are locked up; public interest is far-removed in these calculations; and money is an active determinant in how legislators make their choices. Resort politics is, in many ways, a symbol all that is wrong with Indian democratic politics.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021